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Court revokes ban on weekly but publishing houses reportedly ordered not to print newspaper

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is an ARTICLE 19 press release:

Yemen: ARTICLE 19 welcomes the court's decision to revoke the ban of Al-Wasat weekly and calls on the Yemeni Ministry of Information to uphold this ruling

Last week a West Sana'a court revoked the ban of Al-Wasat and requested the Minister of Information Mr. Hassan Al-Lawzi to pay $250 compensation to newspaper editor Mr Jamal Amer for having illegitimately banned Al-Wasat.

However ARTICLE 19 is concerned to learn about allegations made by the Al-Wasat on 7 May that publishing houses have been ordered by the Ministry of Information not to print the newspaper.

"The ruling was seen as a refreshing stance and gave hope to the furthering of freedom of expression within the region. The Minister of Information's response to the court's decision is extremely disappointing and," said Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

The Minister's order to the publishing houses sits within a long line of other violations of freedom of expression by Yemeni authorities.

ARTICLE 19 has written to the Minister of Information and urged the Yemeni Government to respect its commitment under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Arab Charter on Human Rights, as well as its pledges to freedom of expression under the National Reform Agenda

In particular, the letter also calls on the Minister of Information and the Yemeni government to:

- Ensure the right to fair trial of Abdel Karim Al-Khaiwani, former editor of Al-Shoura online newspaper. Al-Khaiwani has been imprisoned since July 2007 and is expecting a sentence from the Special Criminal Court on Terrorism on May 21. We believe his arrest to be politically motivated.
- Release Mr. Fahd Al-Qarni, a popular Yemeni artist, who was arrested by security forces whilst heading to a festival in Aden last month.

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees free speech.

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